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#PickSix: On The Road To Buffalo

Taylor Heinicke takes the snap from Chase Roullier during practice on Sept. 22, 2021. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Tea)
Taylor Heinicke takes the snap from Chase Roullier during practice on Sept. 22, 2021. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Tea)

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the team.

It was a wild start to the Washington Football Team's 2021 season.

The frustration and head-scratching that came with the 20-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers was quickly replaced by heart attacks and celebration, thanks to a gutsy performance from Taylor Heinicke and a game-winning field goal from Dustin Hopkins against the New York Giants. And somewhere between sliding from one emotional extreme to the other, Washington finds itself with a 1-1 record and a half-game lead in the NFC East.

Now Washington has its biggest test thus far on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Here's what Washington fans want to know ahead of the game.

@DubP23:Is there an effort to get #24 in the open field and get his first TD?

I think they are trying to get Antonio Gibson involved as much as possible. It's really just a matter of time. This might not get noticed as much as it should, but Gibson has actually been one of the better running backs over the past two games. He's ninth in rushing and averaging nearly five yards per carry. And on top of that, Football Outsiders ranks him with the third-highest success rate behind Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb. Clearly, he's doing the right things, so don't be too surprised if he gets his first rushing touchdown soon.

Yang L.: Is Chase Young still the same player as last year? It does not seem he is?

Yes, Lang. Chase Young is still the same person. He proved last year that he's one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL, so he's going to get more attention from offenses.

Jack Del Rio isn't concerned about Young's progress. He said Young is an "excellent football player," and there have been examples that Young is still a force. For example, he caused Jonathan Allen's first sack, and although he was given a penalty against the Giants, he still got through the offensive line with ease on the play. My honest prediction on what will happen is this: this pass-rush will slowly improve, and that will allow Young to make more plays. I'm not saying to stop being frustrated, but it's important to practice patience.

Rob B.: Where is David Bada? He is not on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. I thought the coaches liked him and wanted to keep him around. If he passed waivers, he could be signed to the practice squad with an international exemption.

Here's why you haven't seen much of him recently. Bada is still part of the International Player Pathway Program. Per NFL rules, he hasn't been released, but he also doesn't appear on the 53-man roster. The coaches do like still like him; he's shown a lot of growth since Washington signed him last year. But like Sammis Reyes, he's still a developmental project.

Mark A.: I have not given up on him as a pass blocker in space but I do think he has tremendous potential at guard as well.

I think Sam Cosmi would play well wherever the coaches decide to place him, but I don't see him as a guard. To be fair, he's further ahead in his run blocking as opposed to his pass blocking. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest run-blocking grade against the Chargers. At the same time, he also didn't allow a sack against the Giants, so he's proving that he has the skills to play the position. One last point: changing positions, even on the offensive line, is not always easy, nor is it the correct answer. Sometimes you just have to let young players develop.

William S.: Why does this defense give up so many 3rd and long conversions. It seems like there is no pressure and we are always in a zone coverage so it's easy pickings, especially since the defensive line is not producing a rush.

It's definitely a point of frustration, William, not just for the coaches, but also the players. Washington has allowed 58.1% of opponents' third down attempts -- a farcry from the 37.5% it allowed in 2020. While it's not an ideal way to start the year, the good news is that Rivera believes the errors are fixable. Chase Young also believes the best is yet to come from the unit. The other positive is that this defense has the talent to correct its errors. I feel like I've been stressing this a lot this week, but we must be patient heading into Week 3 of a 17-game season.

John S.: Do the coaches know this: "I coached quarterbacks 32 years; I've only had one five-read guy, and that was Taylor," former Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder told ESPN in December. "He could go one through five in 2.6 seconds because of his ability to do one or two pre-snap reads and then get into the play."

Rivera won't answer my texts, so I can't say what he does or doesn't know, but it does speak to the intelligence of Taylor Heinicke. It also echoes what his teammates have said about him. Terry McLaurin said that the game moves slowly for Heinicke, and several others have praised how he runs Scott Turner's offense. Here's a clear example: he changed the play call that led to J.D. McKissic's touchdown against the Giants. The point is that the team has confidence in him, and that stems from how well he plays.